Not a good feeling and trust Kobe wants to burn through this memory with passionate action
Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, Boston vs. Los Angeles…
Pregame, I’m interviewed Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe mainly about the tradition this rivalry holds. Just as Mr. Ryan and I finish up I spot Julius Erving and his basketball grandson, Kobe Bryant, chattin’ it up as the Lakers shoot around. I squeeze my recorder and felt it crack…
The Celtics won the title that year and it seemed the animus between storied competitors was revitalized. The Lakers were called soft. Paul Pierce went off. Fans thought Kobe choked…without the cough.
Now at the mention, he scoffs…
If he and his mates win this one, where does he sit?
Kobe today commented that the past, whether good or bad, is insignificant. He is as focused as ever and seems to eliminate any thought knocking him off his title quest.
In essence, it’s not about us, it’s about him and his team.
Phil Jackson goes for a ring on the third hand. He’s coaching in his 13th NBA Finals in the last 20 years. He’s in the same boat as Kobe and could care less about the public getting in the way of doing his job. Of course he has his own goals but with respect to basketball fans, they are almost a side note. He has a lot on his plate and worrying about stroking the insecurities of fans is packed somewhere in the freezer.
Doc Rivers is a coach proven. The myriad of excellent moves he’s executed the past three years is reason why Danny Ainge and the Celtics ownership kept him on board despite cries for his ouster.
He’s not one to speak publicly on any pseudo mind game between he and Jackson, but this is an opportunity for tremendous job security.
If Paul Pierce was swimming in the sea, his avatar would be that of Jaws. Devouring everything in his path, Kobe’s killer instinct will have to match his intensity. He’s done it in Los Angeles just two years ago, so to become that next Celtics great his thunder will be heard coast to coast in a series that will be as competitive as it will be classic.
Kevin Garnett, in my opinion, is the key to this series. His elbow jumpers will be money and pull the Lakers bigs away for the basket. Defensively, he might not be as athletic as he has been, but he continues to be savvy. If he can sustain health for the next two weeks, the Celtics have the edge. If not, Kobe will be king.
Pau Gasol has to keep his head and not worry about folks like me labeling him soft despite his immense talent. He’s incredible with both hands around the rim and has moves for days. This is gonna be interesting to see how he deals with Kevin Garnett game in and game out.
Ray Allen is that cool dude who just goes about his business and does him inside of the team dynamic. Everyone and their Pops knows he’s gonna shoot from the left side at every range and lull the opposition to sleep by setting up an athletic drive with his sweet jumpers.
Lamar Odom? Which Lamar Odom will we see? Will the versatile glass ripper, slasher…hyped up on killer instinct juice be ubiquitous or will the soft disinterested jump shooter get pushed out to the three point line and disappear?
Rajon Rondo is arguably the best all around player in these playoffs outside of Kobe Bryant. He’s matured in nuances that somehow…someway… have the Big Three deferring to his skill set. That’s crazy to think about but at 24 he’s as exciting as his talent is limitless.
Derek Fisher is that steady vet who works the triangle to perfection. He will have his hands full with Rajon Rondo and despite all the switches Rondo will face (everyone from Kobe, to Artest, to even Odom) he will his and his will be clutch.
Glen Davis will provide necessary bulk down low. A cat chomping at the Finals bit and he will sacrifice his body and run over ya kid if he’s in the way to the hoop.
Will Michael Finley get some burn? He should but most likely will spell the Celtics back court when there is foul trouble. Could he hit a couple GP Miami clinching jumpers?
Toney Allen is somehow labeled as the cat who is supposed to be this Kobe stopper. He is athletic and he is hungry (so is lil Nate), but I don’t see it. Maybe in certain stretches where Kobe is resting (as only he knows how) within the game, but Naaaaaaah.
Will Andrew Bynum’s meniscus give him problems or will his adrenaline carry through the series? Is Kendrick Perkins hood enough to bang bang boogie with taller and quicker Lakers bigs?
Shannon Brown gonna hit a couple of big threes or fall from the Hollywood sky and bang it on Cornbread Maxwell?
Rasheed Wallace and Ron Artest are on their respective teams for this moment. Both can do so many things on the court and are the epitome of the basketball soldier. Sheed with his length will cause problems from the basket to Philly and Artest will guard everyone and Doc Rivers’ Hawks jersey.
Artest has wanted this moment since he was with the Houston Rockets…
I asked Kevin McHale during the NBA Finals conference call about Sheed and Ron Ron: “Especially with Rasheed (Wallace) I didn’t know if he’s a good fit at all, but in the playoffs he’s played better. I would tell you that the jury was out a little with (Ron) Artest, is (Trevor) Ariza better, is it going to work? Both those guys have stepped up and played better. At the end of the day, the improvement is going to be in the taste of the pudding, who wins a championship? I thought they were both pretty bold moves. I anticipated Rasheed fitting in and having more of an impact with Boston than what’s happened. But he’s had some playoff games where he seems really engaged and playing well. It seems to me that Ron has never quite grasped the entire concept of the triangle, when to move and when to play off the ball and when to be aggressive. He’s starting to get a feel for that. After he made that game winner (in Game #5), I said he’ll have a great next game. It’s really odd and it’s really funny how the guy makes two hoops but what happens when he makes the game winner, the next game he comes out on fire. It’s such a game of momentum and such a game of confidence and such a game of mojo, he found it, but can he bring that and can he stop Paul Pierce?
I’ll post Chris Webber’s thoughts on how to defend Black Pharaoh and Pau Gasol a little later on.
This will be a great series and if you seriously think you have a true gauge on what will come to pass, take your good money to Vegas.
The Celtics are that big brother looking to bully the entire block; The Lakers are that cool contingent Hollywood set on getting this ring and the next.
The Lakers are 8-0 at home in these playoffs and 28-3 the last three years but throw that stat out the window because the Celtics are road warriors and could care less where they beat their rival.
Don’t assume because both teams hold serve or win on each other’s court that they will run away with the series. It just ain’t happening. These teams are way too good for that.
The Celtics are the best three point shooting team in the 2010 playoffs. Will the Lakers hit enough to counter?
Defense on both sides will be at a premium. There will be heated exchanges as no team will give up the guts.
Kobe is gonna get his 30, 7 and 7. His blood will be left on the court. It’s up to his teammates to follow suit. Ron Ron, Lamar, Pau, Drew? Man up. Philly needs help baby.
This is what we came to see and my prediction is…
KG will hang on and rest his Andrew Toney puppies in July.
Lakers…uh…Boston in 7. Paul Pierce Finals MVP.
Like my man Triche said #letsgetthispartystartedright